US Building Automation Controls (BACS) Market Hit by Covid-19. No Major Recovery until 2022 April 2021

2020 was a year of dramatic developments in the US, with the Covid-19 epidemic claiming over half a million lives and causing large scale economic and political disruption.

Incoming President Joe Biden has already signalled a significant shift in economic policy, with a large-scale stimulus package. Biden’s decision to re-join the Paris Accord on Climate Change is also likely to lead to more focus on energy efficiency, where buildings have a big role to play.

The fall in the US BACS market was less severe than the global average. However, this was partly the result of a “delayed reaction” with many ongoing construction projects continued.

BSRIA’s current forecast is that the US market will decline by a similar amount in 2021 before starting to recover in 2022, with more “normal” growth from 2023 onwards. It is possible that Biden’s stimulus measures, if agreed and implemented in full, might filter through to the BACS market, and boost growth. However, the nature of project timescales means this will take time.

BACS growth in demand

The health sector was one of the few that saw growth in demand for BACS in the US in 2020, driven by increased investment in healthcare, and the drive to make healthcare facilities safer. In contrast, there is evidence of a long-term shift away from the “traditional” office working environment which is impacting demand in this segment.


Software continues to perform more strongly than other BACS products, in particular energy management and analytics software, which is forecast to grow at more than twice the rate of the whole BACS market from 2023 onwards. The Biden administration’s more proactive stance on climate change may encourage this further.


Sensors also appear to be performing slightly better than other types of field devices. This supports the theory that, partly because of the pandemic, building owners and managers are attaching a higher priority to being able to measure indoor air quality and levels of ventilation which are linked to the spread of the virus. This interest is also reflected in the growth of solutions which focus on promoting health and safety within buildings.

IP Enablement

The trend towards IP enablement continues, with an estimated 80% of air-conditioning units, and 90% of boilers at least capable of IP connection, though only a minority of these have been connected so far Virtually all DDC controllers sold into US BACS and most HVAC controllers are now freely programmable. This reflects a trend towards more generic controllers. Other types of controller tend to be mainly configurable.


Converged building systems are increasingly popular, especially in newbuild where they account for an estimated 50%. The most common convergence is with HVAC linked to metering, lighting, and security. Convergence is most common in transport and in data centres but is common in all verticals except multi-dwelling residential.

US BACS Market Share

While the US remains by far the biggest BACS market in the world, it is quite a difficult market for non-US suppliers to penetrate as they need to establish a large-scale presence to gain market confidence. Consequently, most of the total market is held by US suppliers, with Siemens and Schneider Electric as the only significant suppliers headquartered outside North America.  Some newer suppliers, including Lynxspring, Vykon (by Tridium) and Skyfoundry have made it to the top 12, focussing mainly on areas such as software and hardware rather than the “traditional” BACS core area of controllers. This could signal part of a shift in the overall nature of the BACS offering.

Overall, the US market looks set for a turbulent and exciting period as market players adapt to the new conditions.

For more information on global, regional, or individual markets, please contact BSRIA Worldwide Market Intelligence:

European sales enquiries: BSRIA UK: ¦ +44 (0) 1344 465 540

America sales enquiries: BSRIA USA: ¦ +1 312 753 6803

China sales enquiries: BSRIA China: ¦ +86 10 6465 7707